Biodiversity and Natural Capital

Framing nature as ‘natural capital’ is a way of looking at the environment from an economic perspective, with living and non-living elements of the environment seen as an ‘asset’ from which numerous benefits flow in the form of ecosystem services. Recognizing these benefits allows values, sometimes financial, to be associated with them. This approach can be useful for influencing decisions driven largely by economic thinking (as most decisions in business and government are) as it allows some of the values of nature to be represented in equivalent terms.

However, one of the challenges in farming nature concept is the incorporation of biodiversity. Biodiversity – the diversity of all living organisms at genetic, species and ecosystem level – forms the living component of natural capital. It is the interactions between biodiversity and non-living natural resources that generate most of the flows that benefit society. Some of these benefits can be measured and valued, but many remain hidden or missing.